Austin Bickel captures essence of charming Harold Hill in “The Music Man”

Austin Bickel. (Photo by Shi Lessner Photography)

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The Hartland Drama Club Troupe #4213 presents Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man” April 26-28 and May 2, 4 and 5. From now until opening night, we will be introducing you to members of the production. Today, we meet Austin Bickel, who plays the charismatic and charming con man Harold Hill, the play’s unsuspecting protagonist.

Austin Bickel first discovered the exhilaration of performing on stage at the age of 6 — and he’s been unstoppable ever since. Now, the Hartland High School junior returns to the stage as Professor Harold Hill in the Drama Club’s production of “The Music Man.”

According to Bickel, playing the leading role of Harold came with plenty of challenges, but he’s proud of his portrayal of the charming, fast-talking salesman in the Meredith Willson classic.

“[Harold] is incredibly charismatic, and to be able to maintain as energetic as him throughout the show has proven to be quite the test of my acting abilities,” he said. “Despite this, I have been more than happy to rise to the challenge and, thanks to the guidance and support of the directing team, I believe I have successfully captured the essence of Harold Hill.”

Bickel says he encountered terrible stage fright when he first started acting, but as time went on, he grew accustomed to performing in front of people. It’s no wonder, then, that his favorite quote is, “If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.”

The son of Laura and Brian Bickel and sibling to brothers Scott and Eric, Bickel says his involvement in Drama Club since freshman year has shaped his life in many ways.

“It’s helped me to realize my passion and grow as a performer,” he said. “My best friends are part of the club and it’s cliché to say so, but it truly is a family.”

Bickel, who also participates in marching band and Chamber Choir at HHS, says he was hooked on acting from his first performance in “A Christmas Carol” at Howell High School.

“Ever since then, I haven’t been able to stop performing, whether it be singing to myself around the house or performing in front of a packed auditorium,” he said. “Thanks to the endless support of friends and family, as well as the acting, singing and dance classes my parents helped to get me involved in, I have grown exponentially as a performer.”

The Hartland Drama Club Troupe #4213 is presenting Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man” at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 26 and 27; at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 28; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 2, and Saturday, May 4; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, May 5. Tickets are $15 for adults, and $13 for seniors and students, and available for purchase at www.hartlanddramaclub.weebly.com. For every ticket sold for the Thursday, May 2, performance, $1 will be donated to the Humane Society of Livingston County. All performances will be held at Hartland High School, 10635 Dunham Road, Hartland.

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